Airway epithelial cells (AECs) participate in allergic airway inflammation by producing mediators in response to allergen stimulation. Whether ovalbumin (OVA) challenge promotes exosome release from AECs (OVA-challenged AEC-derived exosomes (OAEs)), thereby affecting airway inflammation, as well as the underlying mechanisms, is unknown. Our study showed that AECs released an increased number of exosomes after OVA challenge, and the expression of Plexin B2 (PLXNB2; a natural CD100 ligand) was increased by a massive 85.7-fold in OAEs than in PBS-treated AEC-derived exosomes (PAEs). CD100 F4/80 macrophages engulfed OAEs to trigger the transcription of pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines. Plxnb2 transcripts increased in asthmatic lungs, and similarly, PLXNB2 protein was highly enriched in exosomes purified from asthmatic bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Furthermore, aspiration of PLXNB2 or OAEs increased the recruitment of lung neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils and dendritic cells in OVA-challenged mice. Mechanistically, OAE aspiration enhanced the cleavage of CD100 by MMP14, which manifested as an increase in the soluble CD100 (sCD100) level in BAL fluid and lung homogenates. Knockdown of Mmp14 in macrophages prevented the cleavage of CD100 and reduced Ccl2, Ccl5 and Cxcl2 transcription. These data indicate that PLXNB2-containing OAEs aggravate airway asthmatic inflammation via cleavage of CD100 by MMP14, suggesting potential therapeutic targets of OAE-mediated asthma exacerbations.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.